Sun, May 31st 2015, 11:58 PM
Bahamian Chris "The Fireman" Brown ran his fastest time in seven years, since setting the national record at the Bislett Games in Oslo, Norway, solidifying himself as a serious medal threat in the individual event at the Beijing World Championships this summer.
Brown clocked a stunning 44.54 seconds to finish third in the men's 400 meters (m) at the Prefontaine Classic Diamond League Meet in Track Town, USA - Eugene, Oregon this past Saturday. Once again, Kirani James, of Grenada, was in a class by himself, running a world lead of 43.95 seconds for the win. That blazing time was just three hundredths of a second off Michael Johnson's 15-year-old meet record. American LaShawn Merritt, gradually getting back to form after switching coaches in the off-season, ran 44.51 seconds for second, and Brown was right behind him, in third.
"In all things I give the Lord thanks and praise," said Brown from Atlanta, Georgia yesterday. "I just went out there with an open mind and did what I had to do. I'm confident in my training, so I always felt that I would have ran a strong time. I had already run 44.7 for the season, and I'm in pretty good shape so I felt confident that I would go out there and run a fast time.
"Last year my season's best was around 44.5, and this is just my second race, so I feel like I'm right where I need to be in terms of going out there and getting a medal at the world championships in Beijing. Leading up to the race, I just went back to the drawing board. To be able to go out there and run with those young guys and come out with a top time is a blessing. It shows that I am race sharp and ready to go."
In a star-studded field, six of the eight guys ran under 45 seconds. For Brown, he is now ranked sixth in the world in terms of time, behind James, Merritt, American Vernon Norwood, and Trinidadians Machel Cedenio and Deon Lendore. At 36, he is running some of the best times in his life. He was less that two tenths of a second off his national record time at Hayward Field on Saturday, and he did it running from one of the outside lanes in lane seven.
"I have a history of running out of lane seven so it didn't bother me at all," said Brown. "Hopefully I'll get a preferred lane at the world championships in Beijing. I just had to go out there and focus on my race. Right now, I'm just taking it one day at a time. Breaking the national record isn't the main goal. The target is to get on the podium in Beijing. I'm not concerned about the others. My job is to focus on me and my lane, trust in God and just come out and deliver."
Just two Bahamians have ever ran faster than 44.54 seconds in the men's 400m - Brown with his national record of 44.40 seconds, and former world champion and national record holder Avard Moncur (44.45).
Despite running on the outside with almost the entire field behind him, Brown ran the race that he is accustomed to running. He got out fast, maintained a steady pace coming off the back curve and powered home to trail just James and Merritt to the tape. After running a series of 45-second plus 400m races this season, Merritt appears to be gradually getting back to the form that once had him on top of the world in the event.
"That doesn't bother me at all," said Brown. "He (Merritt) already has about four, five or six races this season, and for me to be up there in just my second race, shows that I am where I need to be. I don't want to beat someone when they are down. I rather beat them when they are at their best. I like a fair challenge... no excuses, just come ready to compete, so what he does doesn't really matter to me. I'm not worried about the noise out there at all."
The other Bahamian to compete at the Prefontaine Classic on Saturday, high jumper Donald Thomas, cleared 2.24m (7'4") to finish in a three-way tie for seventh with Jesse Williams, of the United States, and Canadian Derek Drouin. Thomas and Williams are former World Champions, and Drouin was a bronze medalist at the London Olympics and again at the Moscow World Championships.
"I wanted to jump higher, but everything didn't go according to plan. I'm not as sharp as I want to be, but it's still early," said Thomas yesterday.
"I'm looking forward to coming home and jumping well for nationals. The way they have the high jump event set up at the Diamond League meets, there is little room for error. They introduce the competition at a high height, so there aren't any opportunities to get in any warm-up jumps.
"I'm one of those jumpers who like to get in a few warm-up jumps. It's almost as if they're rushing the competition or something. I'm definitely in good shape though. With a few more competitions I think I'll be where I need to be."
Mutaz Essa Barshim, the second best jumper of all-time behind world record holder Javier Sotomayor of Cuba, won that competition on Saturday with a world-leading and meet record leap of 2.41m (7' 10-3/4"). Chinese jumper Guowei Zhang had a personal best leap of 2.38m (7' 9-3/4") for second, and American Erik Kynard finished third with a best jump of 2.35m (7' 8-1/2").
"Barshim is in excellent shape - he is on the verge of breaking the world record, but as a jumper, you can't really focus on what those guys are doing," said Thomas. "The good thing is that it motivates me to jump higher. The competition out there is extremely tough, but I'm shooting for the win. You just have to stay focussed and keep working hard. There was good weather out there on Saturday and the conditions were good for jumping. I'm just one of those who likes to get in a few warm-up jumps, and I was unable to do that."
Thomas, who trains out of Auburn, Alabama, said that he probably won't compete again until the Bislett Games Diamond League Meet in Oslo, on June 11. The Prefontaine Classic, one of the premier track and field meets in the United States, was the third Diamond League meet for the season, and produced a number of world-leading times and distances.
As for the two Bahamians competing, both Brown and Thomas have already qualified for the world championships, set for August 22-30 at Beijing's National Stadium, otherwise known as the "Bird's Nest", in Beijing, China. Both are expected to compete at the Bahamas Association of Athletic Associations' (BAAA) National Championships set for the end of the month, June 26-27, at the Thomas A. Robinson National Stadium. The BAAA junior nationals is set for June 12-13.
Sun, May 31st 2015, 11:43 PM
Bahamas Chamber of Commerce and Employers Confederation (BCCEC) CEO Edison Sumner has warned against the Christie administration's allocation of $20 million for employment programs in conjunction with Urban Renewal, stating that there must be a "clear separation of the two".
Speaking with NB12, Sumner said that more details on any youth or skills development programs are required, though the chamber's initial opinion is that the $20 million allocated to "special employment projects" under the 2015/2016 budget should not be tied to Urban Renewal.
"I think that if you're going to put in place a jobs readiness program, a skills development program or an apprenticeship program, our opinion initially is that it should not be tied to Urban Renewal. There should be a clear separation, because the two of them do not necessarily go hand-in-hand.
"When you're talking about a development agenda for young people then I think that has be given very specific focus," said Sumner, adding that the private sector needs to play an active role in similar programs.
Prime Minister Perry Christie announced the joint allocation under the Ministry of Finance in conjunction with Urban Renewal during his budget communication last week, noting that the program would increase the prevalence of practical on-the-job training.
"Our nation presently faces a grave problem in terms of the proportion of our youth who remain unemployed. Unfortunately, many of these young individuals lack the training and basic skills that are required to take advantage of the future employment opportunities that are expected to emerge as the economic recovery gathers steam and further strengthens. My government attaches a high priority to addressing this most critical public policy challenge, as a means to both increase the long-term employability of young persons and reduce incentives for criminal activity.
"Accordingly, in this budget we are proposing two new interventions in this area, for which the budget includes the allocation of $20 million to which I referred earlier. We will, for one, establish a special school for young persons with behavioral issues that mitigate against their employability. It reinforces the government's policy commitment that every child must count and none be left behind.
"We will also initiate an apprenticeship program in partnership with the private sector under which employers will be incentivized, through a wage subsidy, to employ young persons in positions that will afford them the opportunity to acquire vital, basic job skills," stated Christie.
The allocation has been welcomed by Urban Renewal, which found itself under scrutiny earlier this year after a report from the auditor general raised serious concerns over the organization's handling of public funds for its Small Home Repairs Programme.
Sumner said the chamber has a "keen interest" in the apprenticeship program touched on briefly by Christie, but added that the private sector requires more information, particularly whether or not the new initiative will be another 52-week program similar to that implemented by the Free National Movement, or a more sustained program that will expect local businesses to absorb workers through internships or starter positions.
While acknowledging that governments often try to spur economic activity and employment in the time leading up to elections, Sumner wished to view the proposal from a "purely apolitical perspective" in addressing longstanding issues of employment in The Bahamas.
Sumner also argued that the government should consider augmenting or providing additional financing for existing programs such as the Bahamas Entrepreneurial Venture Fund Ltd. or the BCCEC's mentorship program, which was funded in part through a grant from the Ministry of Finance, to provide the necessary "follow through" for persons participating in future government-funded programs.
"Part of the follow through is not just developing young people to seek after job opportunities. We need to put in place a full resource for entrepreneurship. Not every person who goes through the apprenticeship or mentorship program is going to end up working for some other establishment," he said.
Sun, May 31st 2015, 11:33 PM
The signing of a new memorandum of understanding (MOU) between the Caribbean Employers' Confederation (CEC) and the Caribbean Congress of Labour (CCL) "heralded a new level of cooperation" between the private sector and labor across the region, which could lead to strengthened business sustainability and job creation, according to CEC President Wayne Chen. He applauded the signing late last week, which will see the regional bodies draft in legislation principles, "facilitating the establishment and operation of business and the free movement of labor within the CARICOM common space", while upholding International Labour Organization (ILO) mandates combating child labor, forced labor and discrimination across the region.
"We now urge our national governments to move expeditiously to implement the appropriate laws and regulations that will enhance regional integration and business development," said Chen.
The MOU, signed at the ILO's Brussels office, came amid a CEC and CCL study tour executed by the ILO to study the European Union's (EU) social dialogue mechanisms. The study tour forms part of a larger project funded by the EU, executed by the ILO and implemented by CEC and CCL to develop economic and social policies for the Caribbean.
CEC and CCL executive board members representing Antigua and Barbuda, Barbados, The Bahamas, Grenada, Haiti, Jamaica and Trinidad and Tobago met with representatives of the Confederation of European Business (Business Europe) and the European Trade Union Confederation last week to "ascertain how they can achieve an effective voice on a regional platform".
Claire Courteille, director of the ILO's Brussels office, celebrated the signing, stating that it could set a precedent for labor agreements in other global regions.
"We are delighted to host the signature of such an important MOU. Social partners have a key role to play in strengthening regional integration processes and it is just great to see that in the Caribbean, workers' and employers' organizations are committed to working together on issues of utmost importance for the future of the region," said Courteille.
CCL President David Massiah stated that the signing and the opportunity to learn from their European counterparts would go "a long way" in strengthening Caribbean labor relations.
"The opportunity to observe and experience the workings of social dialogue in another jurisdiction will surely go a long way in encouraging the Caribbean social partners to support and promote an effective social dialogue system in our region," he said.
"The Caribbean Congress of Labour is very confident that these engagements with the social partner organizations in Brussels will surely help to deepen and strengthen the regional integration movement. Signing this MOU with CEC on the legislative agenda marks an important milestone in our cooperation," said Massiah.
Sat, May 30th 2015, 06:00 AM
STUDENTS were not responsible for causing a reported national high school "examination security breach", Education Director Lionel Sands confirmed on Friday.
Sat, May 30th 2015, 06:00 AM